Contact Form

    News Details

    OC man who organized ‘fighters’ for Jan. 6 riot gets home detention and probation
    • May 3, 2024

    A Ladera Ranch entrepreneur who teamed up with a former Orange County police chief and four Inland Empire-based members of an extremist group to travel to the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection was sentenced Friday, May 3 to three years of probation, including six months of home detention.

    Russell Taylor previously accepted a plea deal in which he admitted to conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and testified against Alan Hostetter, a former La Habra police chief-turned yoga instructor and conservative activist who became the most high-profile person with Orange County ties to be convicted for taking part in the overrunning of the U.S. Capitol.

    Federal prosecutors had sought a much harsher four-year, four-month prison sentence for Taylor. They described him as a leader among those protesting the 2020 election results in the run-up to Jan. 6.

    “The court has aptly explained that ‘(i)n any angry mob, there are leaders and there are followers,’” prosecutors wrote in a trial brief. “On January 6 — and just as importantly, in the weeks leading up to January 6 — Taylor was a leader.”

    But the government also acknowledged that Taylor’s assistance to prosecutors was significant, particularly as a trial witness against Hostetter. That cooperation ultimately led U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth to hand down the lighter sentence requested by the defense.

    Taylor’s attorney, Dyke Huish, noted in his own sentencing memo that Taylor after his arrest took full, honest responsibility for his role during the Capitol riot, has cooperated extensively with the government and “has not been involved in any activities that further the false narratives presented by far too many people and organizations” regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    “Some defendants have continued to call January 6th a false flag, some go to trial and then later claim remorse, some have claimed to accept responsibility only to turn back to their vomit after they were stanched and some have truly accepted their proper part and a sought rehabilitation,” Huish wrote. “but scant few have done what Mr. Taylor has and maintained their remorseful actions for over 3 1/4 years.”

    Prosecutors alleged that Taylor helped organize a group of “fighters” to travel to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, when thousands of pro-Trump supporters breached Congress in a violent but failed attempt to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

    Taylor and Hostetter gained public attention for organizing local anti-mask rallies in the midst of the pandemic. The two men — who had deep ties to Orange County’s conservative protest circles — then turned their attention to Trump’s disproven claims of the 2020 election being stolen due to voter fraud.

    Spurred by a tweet in which Trump wrote “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!,” Taylor and Hostetter decided to travel to the Capitol. Taylor, in chat messages leading up to Jan. 6, wrote about organizing “a group of fighters to have each other’s backs and ensure that no one will trample our rights,” adding that “I personally want to be on the front steps and be one of the first ones to breach the doors!” at the Capitol.

    The day before the Capitol breach, Taylor told a pro-Trump crowd during a speech in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that “We will fight and we will bleed before we allow our freedom to be taken from us.” Later that day, he posted a photo captioned, “Now getting ready for tomorrow,” in which a variety of “gear” was displayed on a bed, including two hatchets, a stun baton and a knife.

    Outfitted with a black plate-carrier vest with a knife in the pocket and a backpack containing a hatchet and stun baton, Taylor joined Hostetter and the crowd that marched from a Trump speech down Pennsylvania Avenue and past police barricades and a line of officers that was attempting to block entry into a restricted part of the Capitol grounds.

    Prosecutors described Taylor as among the initial group of rioters who clashed with officers. At one point he paused during the chaos to film a selfie video in which he shouted, “Move forward Americans!” to the rioters. Hours after the breach of the Capitol, Taylor posted a chat message saying, “I was pushing through traitors all day. WE STORMED THE CAPITOL! Freedom was fully demonstrated today!”

    Asked by someone else what would happen next, Taylor replied “Insurrection!”

    Hostetter — who acted as his own attorney and publicly turned on Taylor and other former allies after his arrest — blamed Taylor for their shared legal peril, claiming Taylor was “the one primarily engaged in making extreme comments and taking extreme actions at the U.S. Capitol.”

    See also: List: Southern California residents accused or convicted in the Capitol insurrection

    Huish, Taylor’s attorney, told the judge that Taylor was not a politically active man prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, and had no real involvement in protests prior to the pandemic restrictions implemented by California leaders. He met Hostetter at “beach church” meetings where such restrictions were often discussed. Since returning from Jan. 6, Taylor has distanced himself from Hostetter and from political activism, the defense attorney added.

    “It would be unfair to say that all his political beliefs have shifted, they have not,” Huish wrote. “He still has a conservative based conviction of the “Shining City on the Hill” view of America. But he does not believe that one should cross the lines that were crossed on January 6th. This type of action runs the risk of dimming the light, even for a moment, on what is still the greatest beacon of hope in human history.”

    Hostetter was convicted for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and was sentenced last year to 11 years and three months in federal prison.

    The four Inland Empire Three Percenters militia members who were charged alongside Taylor and Hostetter were also convicted, and sentenced to shorter stints behind bars.

    Related Articles

    Crime and Public Safety |

    Norwalk man mistakenly jailed for 5 days on child molestation charge, suit alleges

    Crime and Public Safety |

    Jury finds 2 Buena Park officers used excessive force in fatal shooting of 19-year-old

    Crime and Public Safety |

    Buena Park man sues for $30 million, claiming OC sheriff’s investigators planted drugs

    Crime and Public Safety |

    Getty Museum loses appeal as court upholds Italy’s right to seize Greek statue

    Crime and Public Safety |

    Man gets 2 life sentences for killing nephews in Arcadia with bolt cutter, pipe

    ​ Orange County Register